Have you got a VAST list of tasks to do in the garden? Arghhhh – there are SO many! We 3Growbags are here with 10 ideas to help you concentrate your energies. As usual though, we each have different priorities and unfortunately there’s a bit of an ongoing spat over auriculas.…
- Involve the children. Make this the year you get the children and grandchildren involved in gardening. Almost every famous gardener, landscaper or environmentalist became fascinated by the outside world at a young age – national treasure David Attenborough was talking about it on Wild Isles only last week. But if youngsters aren’t made aware of it, how will it ever happen? And we really need them, if we are to save this amazing planet!
So get them sowing and growing, and playing with worms and watching bees. It doesn’t have to be anything intense – my darling grandson aged 4 just likes moving mud about, mostly, but he’ll learn………..
2. Plan for extremes. Only a fool ignores the changes in our climate, and our gardening habits need to change as well. When planning new areas of the garden, think hard about choosing plants that will tolerate extremes like summer dryness, without the need for watering and mollycoddling. We drew a list of drought-tolerant plants (link at the end) which might give you some ideas as a starting point.
3. Clean and mend furniture, fences, gates etc. Oh, I know this is a dull one – I can FEEL my sisters rolling their eyes – and I am deeply guilty of putting this task off myself. But cared-for ‘hardware’ makes a wonderful difference to the overall look of an outdoor space (hope my husband is reading this and getting the hint……!)
4. Celebrate Easter with a pot of fabulousness. That’s the worthy stuff over, now put together a gorgeous pot of spring plants to set by your front door for Easter. No subtlety required – Laura, are you listening? You need bright colours to make you and visitors smile every time you go past. Bling to make the heart sing!
So Elaine’s manifesto is covering all bases with a project for the youngsters (tick) a mitigation activity for the climate (tick) a garden bench for the oldies (tick) and a vote-pulling quick win with an easter pot (tick) – anyone would think she’s running to be the next PM 🤣
My tasks are for the more discerning gardeners amongst you and let’s start with the little jewels of the Easter crown – the primula auriculas.
5. Tidy and feed primula auriculas. You won’t be surprised to hear that E has no time for these little prima donnas, and was very negative when I suggested she helped tidy my potted collection of them up (as you will see in the video at the end), but now is the time to be pulling off the old dead leaves and giving these little beauties some regular feeds – I use half strength Tomorite every fortnight.
6. Plan a new woodland border. Something else my two sisters don’t really do is understated charm. Elaine’s colour palettes often have more in common with Prue Leith whilst Caroline’s are verging into Dame Edna Everidge territory. But for those of us with more taste a gentle woodland border is a thing of great beauty and intrigue, and they are just hitting their stride now.
Many of the NGS gardens open in March and April will be full of these vernal species which are adapted to flower early before the tree canopy closes over them, so my advice is to visit as many as you can and draw up a list of plants to put into a little area of dappled shade of your own – trilliums, epimediums, hepaticas, pulmonarias – you won’t regret it.
7. Mulch herbaceous beds. My final task is a bit of a no-brainier for all of us. With the very wet March we’ve had and the soil just starting to warm up, it would be crazy not to get some mulch onto your borders now, to seal in all that lovely moisture as an insurance against another dry summer. You know it makes sense.
8. Helping wildlife. Laura is undoubtedly obsessive about her auriculas (if you’re a subscriber you’ll have seen the video – hilarious!), but I agree there is something slightly miraculous about them, the same as when birds choose your nesting box, or bees slowly plug and unplug your bee hotel, or wood mice play hide and seek in the piles of stones or wood you’ve left lying.
Yes nurturing nature certainly beats raising teenagers in terms of reward and enjoyment*, so make a note to introduce some nature-friendly features in your garden now the weather is improving. So our eighth recommendation must be to read our post on gardening for wildlife at the link below.
9. Get planting. Have you got plants in pots gathered in various corners after that hasty winter purchase (or successful autumn propagation in Elaine’s case 🙄)? Same here. Those long Highland nights play havoc with my vulnerability to ‘Free post and packing’ deals. Well now the worst of the frost has passed it’s time to get these new guests in the ground. Do quickly type them into the RHS website to check out where they like to grow. Too often I rush straight to ‘planting mode’ and can now confirm that sanguisorba, just as a for instance, will die fairly swiftly in a dry, shady bed. 😖
10. Sprucing up. My next recommendation is to give the place a decent spruce up. I agree, the heaving and lifting involved is not hugely appealing so give yourself a helping hand and splash out on some gravel, bark chippings, pre-made edging etc. There’s nothing like some online shopping to egg you on. And yes I mean online. If your garden is any bigger than the size of four trampolines, go large. Tottering out of Lidl’s with a £1.49 bag of mulch is not nearly so motivating as a HI-AB arriving in your drive. It’s much better value in bulk. You could split the cost…ask your neighbours if they, too, would like to tidy their garden up? (Message me for tips on diplomacy before tackling this.)
*It’s worth it from aged 20 onwards though.
Link to our post of Gardening for Wildlife (written during the pandemic)
And here is our list of drought tolerant plants
More NB If you’re not already a subscriber and you’d like a bit more gardening chitchat from the3growbags, please type your email address here and we’ll send you a new post every Saturday morning.
Even Louise found this shrub hard to find – but so worth the effort. It’s her Great Plant this Month.